What is the difference between planning and plans?

This topic came up while I was talking to one of my clients the other day. I asked how she is doing. She told me that she is stressed because the company started planning for 2018 and she has a lot of work to do get ready.

I am recording this podcast on July 18th, 2017 and she is already starting to prepare for the next planning cycle. In general, a lot of big and well-established corporations do that. They kick off the planning and start gathering industry and marketing information early so that they can get ready for the planning cycle.

Here is the thing that frustrates my client: no matter how much effort she puts into creating a solid marketing plan, it’s subject to change.

The budget might get reduced or product launch might get delayed, causing the marketing plan she put so much time and effort into to become out-of-date? But was it useless?

Does this mean we should not plan?

Frankly, planning is in our DNA. We plan our wedding, our vacations and even our days because we see the benefits of planning. The whole planning process helps us to

  1. Know what to do to accomplish end goals
  2. Mitigate foreseeable chaos
  3. Align our team, especially a big team or multiple marketing and product functions

The truth is there is a difference between “plans” and “planning”. Planning is an active way of discussing the goals, objectives, strategies, and tasks that we need to accomplish. Plans are the documentation of planning.

Since things change, plans need to get updated on a regular basis. Planning is a continuous process that helps us adjust course, keep on-track and make accomplishing goals more likely.

President Eisenhower says it so poignantly, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Planning is the prerequisite of business success, but success is not guaranteed by planning.

Three Planning Takeaways:

  • Planning is an active ongoing process, while plans are the documentation of that discussion at one point of time.
  • Planning aims to mitigate problems and changes, yet bear in mind that the only constant in life is change.
  • Planning does not guarantee success, yet it’s absolutely necessary.

The saga continues!

Please, send me your marketing questions, or if you want to learn more about business planning here or via Twitter @pamdidner.

Who is Pam Didner?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, marketing to sales enablement, Pam has a holistic view of how a company runs. She thinks strategically and then translates the big picture into actionable plans and tactics.